Hawker Hurricane (fighter)

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Perhaps the key defensive fighter in the Battle of Britain, the Hawker Hurricane has been somewhat eclipsed in general awareness by the Supermarine Spitfire. Both were excellent aircraft; the Hurricane was more evolutionary while the Spitfire was revolutionary. [1] For example, it originally used some fabric, rather than metal, skin over its airframe, but, from the beginning, had new features such as fully retractable landing gear.

Designed, in 1934, by Sydney Camm, the Hurricane was the first monoplane in RAF operational service, and the first aircraft to exceed 300 mph. As the faster Spitfire took on more air combat duties, in 1941, the rugged Hurricane was used in a variety of fighter-bomber roles. The "D" model could carry two unguided rockets or 40mm autocannon, and was used against tanks in North Africa and Burma.

One of its specialized roles was in what is now called offensive counter-air, and, at the time, "night intruder" duty. [2] This might seem counterintuitive, as it was not an effective night fighter, as few aircraft not equipped with radar could be. The intruder role, however, tended to have the enemy approaching the Hurricane from a known direction. Long range and ruggedness were the requisites for flying to the vicinity of a German air base in France, and then attacking the bombers as they went into a landing approach. In a second phase, the Hurricanes would attempt to intercept loaded German bombers on takeoff.